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Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School & in Life

by Baruti K. Kafele

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Learning About Black Male Students to Meet Their Classroom Needs

It is said that you cannot teach what you do not know. I couldn't agree more. Imagine that you are a 6th grade language arts teacher with no background in science, and your principal asks you to teach two periods of science every day. How are you going to be effective? How are you going to be enthusiastic? How are you going to hold the attention of your students? It is going to be very difficult, if not impossible, under these circumstances.

Now, imagine that you are teaching the content area that you have been trained to teach, but you know nothing about your students. Let's say that you have a sizable number of black males in your class. What do you know about this specific population of students? Are you prepared to connect with them? Do you know not only how to motivate them, but how to keep them motivated over a long period? Do you know what their classroom needs are? Are you prepared to address and meet their classroom needs? Unless you can answer these questions, your students' success (and, therefore, your success as a teacher) would be very difficult to achieve. Ask yourself what you know about your black male students'

  • Need for inspiration;
  • Learning styles;
  • Goals and aspirations;
  • Experiences and realities;
  • Needs and interests;
  • Challenges, obstacles, and distractions;
  • Peers, parents, and neighborhoods; and
  • History and culture.


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